In a first-ever study linking socio-economic status to frailty after a heart attack, researchers have established that poor people are more than twice as likely as the wealthy to become frail after a heart attack.
“By defining frailty, which combines many areas of medicine, we can predict which people are at the highest risk after a heart attack. And we found a strong connection between frailty and socioeconomic status,” said Vicki Myers of the school of public health at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.
Myers and her colleague professor Yariv Gerber created an index of 40 health-related variables effective in diagnosing frailty in heart attack patients.
Using medical records, the researchers applied the index to 1,151 patients who had suffered heart attacks in central Israel from 10 to 13 years prior to the study.
They found that 35 percent of the patients in the study had become frail in the decade following their heart attack.
These patients had a lower socioeconomic status – with fewer years of education, lower family income, unemployed and living in one of Israel’s lowest socio-economic categories, said the study published in the International Journal of Cardiology.
These findings, the researchers added, may reflect weak access to healthcare among the poor.
“Not only was low income associated with twice the risk of becoming frail, living in a deprived neighborhood was linked to a 60 percent increased risk of frailty compared to living in a wealthy neighbourhood, irrespective of personal circumstances,” Myers said.
“We recommend initiatives to prevent frailty after a heart attack among high-risk groups and additional healthcare services in disadvantaged areas to address socioeconomic inequalities,” explained the researchers.